Sunday, May 28, 2006

Memorial Day

I'm looking out the window.
It is a beautiful day.
It is Memorial Day.

I am not eloquent enough to do justice to what this day means.
It does not mean "party".
It does not mean "sale".

It is a day to remember, reflect and honor the roughly 650,000 Americans have died in the many wars this country has fought since 1775.

Today is different from independence Day in that it is (in theory) not a celebration of what we've achieved, but a reflection on what we've lost.

I heard a radio announcer Friday remind people to thank a vet....
... That's Veterans Day.
We can't thank those we honor today.

This day is for Doug Munro, who led his wooden boats into the teeth of Hell to save 900 Marines who had been given up for dead, and who purchased their lives with his own.

This day is for the cooks, yeomen and quartermasters, who worked tirelessly and often thanklessly to keep their frontline brethren fed, paid and equipped...untill an enemy shell, a snipers bullet, a terrorists bomb or an enemy advance put their efforts to rest.

This day is for the crews of Torpedo Eight, who, kept their planes on a suicide course in a desperate attempt to stop a enemy that had never known defeat...who were all but one blasted to atoms before they got a shot off....who will never know that their sacrifice cleared the way for others to win an impossible victory.

This day is for the draftees on those transports that the U-boats found, and the crews of a hundred US ships cast terrified into the black, cruel ocean who's last conscious thought was of the sharks teeth ripping them asunder.

This day is for the patriots who received "Tarelton's Quarter", those who were beaten and bayoneted on the Bataan Death March.

This day is for those who got to the top of Suribachi, but never came down, this is for those first 5 minutes in Saving Private Ryan and for those who lived and died the real thing, with the smells and the noise and the terror that even Spielberg cannot capture.

This day is for those who died on beautiful Sunday morning in Hawaii, and those who died at 10:59 on the 11th of November 1918.

This day is for those who marched in formation across open fields towards muskets and cannons and fell, those who were overrun as they tried to get defective rifles to work and those whose last moments were spent shivering on a on a snow covered hillside in Korea.

This day is for those who died in vain, betrayed by those for whom such perfidy is still their proudest moment. For those who last moments were spent without those last few rounds, or died on a black Samutran night from shell and torpedo from an overwhelming force.... fighting for an ally who would capitulate within days.

This day is for those who died so their comrades in arms might live, those who stayed and fought fires and kept magazines from detonating, those who held the line and bought time and those who's last words were "Take her down!"

This is for those who died so that we and others might be free. This is when we remember those who are too often forgotten, and give thanks.

This is Memorial Day

UPDATE: EagleSpeak, Scott Ott and Baldilocks have further thoughts.

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